Exhausted. Fearful. Lonely. Inadequate. Misunderstood. Ignored. Disheveled. Unorganized. Fake. Abandoned. Unloved. Unnoticed. Unappreciated.
This season of my life has been nothing short of a rollercoaster. I reach the top only to quickly be brought down again. And the ride hasn’t let up. The last year has been in words borrowed from Dickens, the best of times and the worst of times.
A little more than a year ago we made the difficult decision to leave our church family so my husband could pursue being a more active part in ministry again. Something he is passionate about and gifted for. The reason I knew I wanted to spend my life with him in the first place was because I saw his passion and giftedness for ministering to children and youth (a giftedness I LACK BIG TIME!) And very quickly we found a family to become part of and where he began serving as a youth Minister. I am so thankful he can pursue his dream, a dream God placed very deeply in his heart. A dream that sadly I have hindered more than helped this year as I continually mourn the loss and miss our family that we left. It was a joint decision to leave, but it is hard leaving a family when there wasn’t anything WRONG there, just that we knew God was asking Jerry to minister to his flock….somewhere. And I have struggled fusing myself into a new Family Tree when I keep longing for the taste of the fruit from the previous Tree.
You learn to cope. You try to have grace. You learn who you can trust and life goes on.
About a year ago I became a mom (which encompasses the majority of the BEST of times!) I love being a mom. It is what I know I was designed and created to do. And I hope to do it well and with much fervor and zest for the rest of my life. But I haven’t adjusted to Motherhood in the way I expected. Not that I think I can’t handle being a mom, but I wasn’t nearly prepared enough for the dump truck of unwanted and often times inappropriate opinions, advice, judgments, ideas, comments and *expectations* from so many people in my life about what I do, have done, should be doing or should have done as a mom. This is what started the Worst of Times of the Year.
But you learn to cope, you try to have grace and tack and life goes on. And you learn who you can trust and who you can count on and who you may just need to count out of your life.
Then about 6 months ago my marriage reached a pivotal point. It was either fight hard or run fast away. Both of us being believers in Jesus Christ and valuing His ideals for our lives, we decided to fight (and not just with each other anymore ;). I opened up to people because I thought I had no other choice, and while one family came to my rescue and prayed for and with me, set me back on a right path, loved on and encouraged me, some other families just dished out nastiness and judgments. Ouch! We are still fighting that marriage battle. Wish I could say differently, but it is a struggle almost every day. And now I know what is meant when people say how “hard” marriage is. Boy is it! And it has NOTHING to do with marrying the *right* person. I am confident if I had married someone else, he would have found out all the ugliness inside me that my husband has found. If my husband and I had ever experienced the types of conflicts, feelings, thoughts, words, ideas and differences in values while we were still dating we would have said, “see ya later!” But that is the *joy* and *beauty* of marriage (even when it doesn’t feel that way). The reward is knowing that you aren’t alone and that you stick with it even when it is the pits. Even when it hurts.
And you learn to cope, you try to have grace and tack and forgiveness and life goes on. And you learn who you can trust and who you can count on and who you may just need to count out of your life.
About three months ago we found ourselves checking our little baby into Children’s Hospital because he was rapidly losing weight, would only nurse, had refused to eat anything solid for days upon days, had battled a terrible infection, had already been on a course of antibiotics (which in and of itself was scary for us!), and just became lifeless and lethargic, not showing any signs of interaction….just wanting to sleep. Talk about our worst nightmare. We had to watch him be poked and prodded not once, but four times for the nurses to get an IV into him. Waited as patiently as possible for the results of blood tests and scans. Thinking the worst. Thinking something was wrong with his body, his organs, his brain. In the end we spent over four days in the hospital. Trying everything we could, the doctors trying everything they could to get him hydrated, to get as much nutrients into his little body as we could. Praying that he started gaining weight. Praying that he regained an appetite. With gaining a little weight we were able to leave the hospital about a week before Christmas, with all these new things we had to try to see if they “worked.” In the end, leaving the hospital still having NO explanation from the doctors as to WHY they thought he just up and stopped wanting to eat. WHY he wasn’t gaining weight as he should. WHY he had lost so much weight in such a short amount of time. In the middle of trying solution after solution (so many of which failed), becoming hopeless and desperate to ever figure it out, we still have this concern in the back of our heads of if this will happen again. What to do if we have to give him an antibiotic again? What to do if he stops eating again? What to do if he doesn’t gain weight like he is supposed to?
And as if this wasn’t gut-wrenchingly difficult enough, we find out that more than one of our
family members relatives from both sides of our families were telling people (in so many words) that the reason our son ended up in the hospital is because we were not feeding him…or weren’t feeding him enough. Ugh…. The pain to hear that is just beyond earthly words. To imagine that someone can be so cruel, so vicious, so heartless?? And then to realize they are saying these things, not about a stranger, but about their own family. We were stunned. Hurt. Still hurting. Trying to make sense of it. To go through so much worry, never once having that sneaky Devil tempt us to feel guilty about his situation, being assured and reassured this wasn’t anything we did, nothing that we could have done to prevent this. He was just sick. Poor little thing was just sick. And then to have people who are supposed to love you, supposed to have your back, bash you like that. Tarnish your reputation. Ruin your credibility. Undermine your love and sacrifice for your own child. Just was unbearable.
Somehow you try learning to cope, you try to have grace and tack and forgiveness and life goes on. Even when it hurts, life goes on. And you learn who you can trust and who you can count on and who you may just need to count out of your life for good!
The recovery of our event in the hospital has undoubtedly taken more of a toll on my husband and me than on our little guy. He bounced back more quickly than we ever dreamed. Praise be to God our Father!! Eats like a hog at the trough. Plays and gets in to EVERYTHING. We are so thankful. But we still feel like we are recuperating. Baby weaned himself from nursing at 11 months. Knowing that breast milk was the best source of nourishment to keep him healthy we had to find donor milk, since my supply diminished once he weaned, and were blessed by friends who pumped and gave up their liquid gold stash for our baby. I struggled through weeks and weeks of depression trying to grapple with the fact that my body was failing me, that I could no longer provide the one things he so desperately needed. A new baby is due in less than three months and although I pray earnestly every day that our older son begins to nurse again once the new baby is here and milk is in full swing again, I know the reality is he may not, and I know that is not what is best for him but it is out of my control. Oh how I hate when life is out of my control! I did everything that I knew how to do to increase my supply, to pump, to nurse, to find milk from other women. I did everything I knew how to and in the end it still doesn’t feel like I did enough.
And I quickly learned that what I thought (and know!) is best for our children is not always what my parents, our “friends” and “family” think is best. And having been met with looks, comments, and suggestions which only scream utter disappointment and disapproval in me and my values and my choices, I have become so weary. Never before have I thought I was such a disappointment to my parents, to our relatives, to our Christian family to our friends. I find myself so longing for HOME. So eager for Jesus to sweep me away. Because I Just. Feel. So. Alone.
But Life Goes On.
And tonight as I write this…as I reflect on this week that has led me to write this. I realize what the root is. Not all the symptoms. Not all the problems. Not all the hurts and aches. But the root.
I have been eagerly waiting to be accepted. To be desired. To be pursued. To be acknowledged. To have someone who Loves me. Someone who Notices me. Someone who Values me. Someone who will Rescue me.
As a child I had hoped that would come from my parents. It didn’t. As a teenager I hoped it would come from boys. It didn’t. In college I hoped it would come from my friends. It didn’t. When I was a newlywed I hoped it would come from my spouse. It didn’t.
The truth is not just that my need for love and to be desired, to be pursued and hope to be valued didn’t come from those people in my life but that It Couldn’t come and Can Never Come from those people…..or any people.
I have tried to shame myself into changing my heart. Telling myself I am not worthy to be pursued. That I am selfish for wanting to be Rescued. Lying to myself when I try to convince myself that I will never be loved.
I haven’t understood why this rollercoaster is still trapping me, still hurting me, still disappointing me. Faced with financial difficulties which seem to be rapidly worsening, I finally broke last night. And once I got the baby to sleep, and knew that no one could hear, I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. (And baked a pan full of homemade brownies!) I told God how indescribably angry I am at Him. How I feel like HE LIED to me when He said He would take care of me. How I felt deceived to think if we always were faithful in tithing, in giving, in being honest with our money that He would provide. How I felt all alone. That no one, NO ONE, really accepted me for me. That every person who I used to consider a friend had become a foe. That the only person I had in my life who wanted me was our baby, and that was only because he wasn't enough to have his own opinion of who I am!
And I have been carrying around all of that even to today. Still not thinking God had answered me.
Now I know that He has. And I hope sharing all of this speaks wisdom and truth into your heart as well.
#1 God does provide. He provides enough for today.
The prayer Christ modeled for us asks God to “Give us each day our daily bread.” -Luke 11:3 Not enough provision for the week. Not stability for the rest of our earthly lives. But enough for today. Just….today!
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Oh, isn’t that the Truth!) -Matthew 6:34
#2 I can’t expect from people what only God can give. And I am not able to change the way He created me, the way He wired me: To want to be Loved, Pursued, Rescued.
“I am realizing that at least half of my life has passed, and I have spent most of it trying to deny the way God made me. Afraid to be strong for fear of being prideful. Afraid not to please for fear of being rejected. Afraid to ask the questions from my soul for fear they’d never find answers. So afraid that one wrong step would ruin everything. Afraid to say out loud what my heart longs for…afraid that longings are sin and God wouldn’t understand. Afraid to admit that I am a woman who longs to be desired, longs to be rescued, and longs to be called beautiful. And I have spent way too many years standing around the edge of my life trying to convince myself that I do not want to be Cinderella. Pretending that I really didn’t come to dance. I have concocted a few lies to make life hurt less and then forced myself to live them. Besides, glass slippers probably pinch your toes anyway.” Excerpt from Do You Think I’m Beautiful by Angela Thomas.
I have learned to cope and deal so that Life can Go On, because regardless what I do or don’t do, I have learned that Life Goes On. But I don’t want it to simply Go On anymore. I want it to fulfill the desire that Jesus has for me: Knowing that He came that I may have life, and have it abundantly. –John 10:10
So, Lord, in the way that only you know how, please remind me or show me for the first time, give me permission to ask and believe that you Love me, that you call me Beautiful, that you have and will continue to Pursue me, that you will Rescue me and that you have not Forgotten me. Amen.